Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Building Confidence That Lasts

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

Group of student smiling at each other while talking.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Building Confidence That Lasts

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough or that your achievements result from luck or timing? If so, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome, a common phenomenon that affects many individuals, regardless of their background or accomplishments.

In this blog, you will explore the different types of this syndrome and learn practical strategies for overcoming it and building lasting confidence.

Two students walking in the school campus.

From developing a growth mindset and setting achievable goals to using positive self-talk and seeking support from others, this blog will cover a range of techniques that can help you move past this problem and build confidence that lasts.

Whether you’re a student, a professional, or anyone struggling with self-doubt, this blog is for you. So, read on to learn more!

What is imposter syndrome?

What does it mean to have self-doubt? No matter how great a person is, those with self-doubt never feel good about themselves or what they do. Because they are always looking for proof that they are not good, they can’t enjoy the pleasure of reaching their goals.

This problem is the psychological feeling of having self-doubt in some part of your life, even though you have been successful in that area. You might have self-doubt if you often feel like a fraud, even in areas where you are usually very good.

This syndrome can make a person feel upset and nervous and can also show up as negative self-talk. Both anxious and sad feelings often follow self-doubt.

Types of Imposter Syndrome

It has five main types, which are as follows:

The Perfectionist

One sign of this kind of self-doubt is thinking that, unless you were perfect, you could have done better. Your desire to be perfect makes you think you’re not as good as other people think, making you feel like a fraud.

The Expert

The expert feels like a fraud because they don’t know everything there is to know about a certain subject or topic, or because they haven’t mastered every step in the process they claim to be an expert in. They don’t consider themselves “experts” because they think they can still learn more about the field.

The Natural Genius

If you don’t think you’re smart or skilled, you might have this syndrome, which makes you feel like a fraud. You might feel this way when you don’t do well at something the first time you try it or when it takes you longer to get good at something.

The Soloist

You might feel like a fraud if you need help to reach a certain level or position. Because you couldn’t get there independently, you’re starting to doubt your skills and abilities.

The Superperson

One type of this syndrome is the belief that you must be the hardest student or achieve the highest levels of success possible and that if you don’t, you’ll feel like a failure.

What causes imposter syndrome?

What causes people to feel like they aren’t good enough? This is also called cognitive confusion. Because of it, people start to doubt their own skills and achievements. They don’t believe that people hold them in such high regard. They don’t like who they are or what they’ve done in the past.

Female students looking out the window while thing about Cornell deadlines

But where does all this confusion and doubt come from? Even though it can be bad for a person’s mental health, this syndrome is not recognized as a specific psychological illness and can have many different causes. Several studies have found that a combination of the following causes self-doubt:

Family environment

When you were young, your parents or other family members may have pressured you to do well or been too hard on you.

Social pressures

Participating in a social circle or group where what you do seems to have a clear link to how much you are valued and liked

Sense of belonging

The imposter effect can be caused by anything that makes a person feel different or left out of the group, even things that happened in the past.

There may be differences in language, race, gender, financial status, religion, physical ability, and learning style, among other things. It’s possible for the person to still feel like they don’t fit in even after the problem has been fixed.


Some types of people are more likely to feel pressure, uncertainty, and loss on the inside than others. It might get worse during times of worry or change, even if they have nothing to do with your studies.

Because it can make people feel bad, self-doubt should be taken seriously. People who feel anxious and not good enough may be less likely to take chances or take on tasks that would help them grow and thrive as people.

People might not actively look for or fully explore relationships that could benefit them at school. Even if they do, the internal strife will force them to put in much work. It could make someone angry, ashamed, sad, or unsure of themselves.

What are the characteristics of imposter syndrome?

What are the signs that a person has self-doubt? Here are some of the most common signs and symptoms of this syndrome:

Characteristics of Imposter Syndrome

You might be wondering what self-doubt feels like. Here is a list of some of the most common signs and symptoms of it:


Insufficiencies in both self-worth and self-efficacy lead directly to persistent feelings of worry about being successful. People think that professional success is an unattainable and dangerous dream when, in fact, it is a reality that can be reached with hard work and persistence.

Female students looking bored while sitting on a table.

Undervaluing contributions

People with this syndrome consistently undervalue what they have done well, making them feel like they are not up to the job.

Attributing success to external factors

People with this syndrome tend to blame their wins on things outside their control that they had nothing to do with.

People find it hard to take credit for their own successes when other team members give them positive comments like praise, raises, or promotions. Instead, they might say that the good thing that happened was due to chance, luck, or the work of their classmates.

Sabotaging self-success

Self-doubt makes people feel bad about themselves and useless. It forces people to go out of their way to make bad or risky choices, which is not a good thing.

As a result of the imposter effect, people worry about getting ahead in life. They think that success is not in the cards for them, so no matter how hard or how often they try, they will never get there.

People with imposter syndrome often have signs that they are freaking themselves out. They tell themselves that this is okay because their efforts will be careless, not enough, or pointless. Because they question themselves, they might not put in as much effort, focus, creativity, or persistence, which could make the situation worse in the long run.

Setting unrealistic expectations

One sign of this syndrome is feeling like one’s best isn’t good enough. People have to set goals that are impossible to reach because they feel like they aren’t good enough when they try to reach goals that are realistic, time-bound, difficult, and complicated.

Continuous fear of not living up to expectations

Self-doubt makes it hard for a person to reach their goals, no matter what those goals are. Even though they try their hardest, it makes them feel like they can’t meet the expectations others have for them.

They don’t see these expectations as a task they want to take on and beat but rather as a burden they can’t get away from.


People push themselves to get over the idea that they can’t do something. They quickly use up all the energy they have. They start to see their work as a burden rather than something that gives them meaning and purpose. As a result, they lose a lot of excitement for what they do.

8 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

If you deal with self-doubt on a daily basis, there are many things you can do to help ease the feelings that come with it.

It is very important to remember that you are not alone and that your feelings are not in any way strange. When you have big plans for your future, worrying about not giving it your all is normal. Over time, these feelings could turn into what is called “imposter syndrome.”

But self-doubt can be overcome with time and hard work. Here’s what you can do:

Focus on the facts.

Self-doubt makes you feel like you aren’t good at your studies. But these feelings are often caused more by fear than by the real situation. The best way to deal with this is to keep your feelings and the facts about the situation separate.

Two students talking while walking in a campus.

Your mind will always find new things to worry about, but you can teach it to focus on the facts instead. When you find yourself in a position that makes you feel like a fraud, it can help to think about what happened instead of what people said about it.

Acknowledge, validate, and then let go.

There’s no reason to think that the fact that your feelings about an event are based on stories instead of facts makes them any less real.

You don’t have to hide your thoughts to overcome self-doubt. Instead, the best way to get rid of this feeling is to first admit that you feel bad, then tell yourself that it’s okay, and finally, let go of those feelings if they’re not based on reality.

Share how you’re feeling.

Having self-doubt makes you feel very alone. So, the next time you feel these feelings, you should try to talk to someone about them.

There are two reasons why you should tell other people how you feel:

  • Don’t try to hide your thoughts. Instead, acknowledge them and let them go. If you keep your self-doubt to yourself, it will only get worse and harder to deal with over time. The first step to overcoming this syndrome is to recognize these feelings and talk to someone else about them. This is an excellent way to find them.
  • You might find someone else who understands what it’s like to feel like a fraud. Unfortunately, imposter syndrome is something that happens a lot at school. There’s a chance that the person you trust has also felt like a fraud at some point. This makes you feel like you aren’t alone.

Look for evidence.

If recognizing or talking about your feelings doesn’t help, you can try challenging them with facts instead. Focusing on facts is the best way to deal with these feelings since self-doubt is usually not based on reality.

Reframe your thoughts.

Your own thoughts give you the power to act. Your view of the world can change in both good and bad ways.

If you have a lot of bad thoughts, you should start keeping track of your inner speech and changing it whenever you can. This method won’t work right away, but over time, it will help you see difficult situations in a more positive light.

Look for a mentor.

You can beat self-doubt by always working to improve your hard skills and your soft skills. So, when that little voice in your head tells you that you’re not good enough at something, you can tell it that you’re working on improving. You’ll feel better about yourself as a result.

Two people talking to a student for a letter of recommendation.

Finding a mentor or tutor is a great way to reach this goal. Try to find someone in your field who can help you out and give you good tips that you can use.

Learn from your team members.

Self-doubt is often seen when people compare themselves poorly to others and conclude that those people are better.

Even though it’s easy to compare yourself to others, there are many things you can do to change how you feel. When you feel like comparing yourself to other people your age, fight that urge and instead think about what you can learn from their experiences.

The truth is that some people will be better than you at things you’re not good at, and vice versa. This doesn’t make you less worthy; instead, it gives you a chance to learn from each other so that you can all grow professionally and do well in your studies.

Toot your own horn.

Sometimes, the best way to get rid of feelings of self-doubt is to face them head-on. When you think you’ve done a good job at something, make a big deal out of it.

Imposter syndrome can be a common experience for students who are going through the college application process. It is natural to feel a lot of stress and feel uncertain about whether you have the right credentials, skills, or qualities to get into your dream school. However, self-doubt can also keep you from taking action and pursuing your goals.

That’s where AdmissionSight is here to help. Our experienced college admissions experts help you navigate the application process, identify your strengths and weaknesses, and develop a strategy to increase your chances of getting accepted into your top-choice schools.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or uncertain about the college admissions process, don’t let self-doubt hold you back. Book an initial consultation today and take the first step towards achieving your academic and career goals!


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